Irma Luise was a well-to-do American and an amateur photographer who arrived in West Berlin in July 1953. Her camera, loaded with Kodachrome film, allowed her to capture street scenes so full of deep, saturated colours and so filled with warm July sunlight that looking at them now, in December 2018, you would wish nothing else but to be able to step into the pictures and feel both the thrill and the warmth of the moments she caught on film.

Irma died at the age of 100 and childless – her estate was in the hands of her accountant whose other client saved thousands of her photos and slides from being discarded. You can read more about her and the person who eventually presented her often incredibly good photos to the world on Flashbak website. The page also shows some more of her Berlin images. 

Just to give you the taste, however, here are several photos (all by Irma Luise, copyright lies with Found Slides ) I found particularly appealing. Enjoy them!

A construction site with the “Berliner Morgenpost” fence (image by Irma Luise)
Ku’damm at U-Bhf “Uhlandstraße” 
Ruins of residential buildings around the old Potsdamer Platz 
Street-tram travelling down the old Potsdamer Straße – Weinhaus Huth on the right is the only still existing pre-war building on today’s Potsdamer Platz.
Ku’damm in July 1953

Berlin of the 1980s was a magnet attracting new people, new bands, new artists. The city’s imperfection, its messiness, its open ends juxtaposed against the ultimate barrier, the Wall, running through it, created a perfect breeding ground for all those who thought precious little of elegant white fences and “norms and regulations”.

One of the then new arrivals was a British band, Depeche Mode.  They found here both perfect music-making and recording conditions (at the legendary Hansa Studios in Köthener Straße in Kreuzberg) as well as an enthusiastic, devoted audience.

Not only in West Berlin or West Germany – Depeche Mode won the hearts of many, many East Berlin and East German fans. The same happened in Poland – something to which the author was herself a witness and active participant: I discovered Depeche Mode as a 14-year-old in the People’s Republic of Poland and remain one until today, as a citizen of the German Federal Republic.

Depeche Mode are frequent guests in Berlin and their concerts are sold out every single time. But what was it like back in the 1980s, in the DDR? It wasn’t, in fact, any different: the band were worshipped on both sides of the divide. But for those on its eastern side March 7th 1988 was what many still describe as “the most beautiful day of their life”. This short video – an extract from a longer documentary which is absolutely worth watching if found online – explains why. So does the book by Sascha Lange and Dennis Burmeister, two long-time Depeche Mode devotees.

You will also enjoy the author’s favourite early Depeche Mode video recorded in Berlin in the early 1980s and featuring among others, the U1 viaduct along Gitschiner Straße and Wassertorplatz in Kreuzberg, the Wannsee lido and Hansaviertel in Tiergarten: “Everything Counts”.